Canada-wide Update | Highlights

May 27, 2024


Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly Canada-wide newsletter:


Calgary membership surges for Alberta NDP

The Alberta NDP, once predominantly rooted in Edmonton, has undergone a significant transformation, with Calgary now emerging as its membership stronghold. This shift has been seen since the start of the leadership vote, where nearly half of the party’s members are now from Calgary, compared to one-quarter from Edmonton. The surge in Calgary’s NDP membership, surpassing even the UCP’s presence in the city, signals a growing enthusiasm for the party. Notably, Calgary now hosts the highest number of NDP members, with six of the top seven ridings by membership being located there. This shift extends beyond Calgary’s borders, with surrounding areas also showing increased NDP support. This shift could present opportunities, particularly for frontrunner Naheed Nenshi.  As the party navigates this transition, there’s speculation on potential shifts in political strategy and ideological orientation, with a greater emphasis on Calgary’s corporate culture.

Atlantic Canada

N.B. Premier ‘furious’ over sex ed presentation; bans group’s school presentations

Premier Blaine Higgs is on the offensive after a Quebec-based sexual health awareness organization presented “clearly inappropriate” material in at least four high schools across the province. Higgs, a staunch defender of parental rights, issued a statement condemning the presentation which did not fall within the province’s curriculum. The party has also used the incident to rally support and run ads targeting Liberal leader Susan Holt, who previously suggested that parental rights should not be the main election issue.

British Columbia

Relationship between B.C. United Party and Conservative Party turns sour 

A proposed agreement to prevent vote splitting between B.C.’s two right-of-center parties ahead of the upcoming election has collapsed, leading to a contentious exchange between their leaders. B.C. United Leader Kevin Falcon accused B.C. Conservative Leader John Rustad of prioritizing personal ambition over the party’s interests, while Rustad criticized Falcon for being unreasonable and self-serving. Talks between representatives of both parties involved a proposed non-competition agreement, with Conservatives running in 47 seats and United in 46. Despite common ground, Rustad rejected the offer without making a counter-offer, risking continued NDP governance, according to Falcon. Rustad, however, asserted that United’s proposal was unacceptable and reiterated his commitment to fielding candidates in all 93 ridings, expressing disappointment with United’s approach and accusing Falcon of previously declining merger talks. The discord highlights the parties’ struggle for unity in the face of an imminent election, drawing criticism from NDP officials for their focus on internal disputes rather than addressing public concerns such as inflation, healthcare, and housing.


Ontario Delivering Choice and Convenience by Expanding the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages Starting this Summer

Beginning in August, Ontario consumers will be able to purchase coolers and other ready-to-drink beverages at grocery stores that currently sell wine or beer. By November 2024, all convenience, grocery, and big-box stores will be permitted to sell  beer, cider, wine and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages. The province aims to facilitate a more open and convenient alcohol beverage marketplace, which will add up to 8,500 new stores where consumers can purchase these products. The government has committed to conducting a broader review of taxes and fees on alcoholic beverages by the end of the year.


Chrystia Freeland says capital gains bill will be introduced before summer

The federal government plans to introduce legislation before the House rises for summer to implement its increase in the inclusion rate for capital gains taxes promised in Budget 2024. This change, set to take effect as of June 25, will raise the inclusion rate from one-half to two-thirds on capital gains realized by companies and individuals on gains above $250,000. The government aims to raise approximately $19 billion over five years through these changes, with the revenue intended to offset new spending in areas such as housing and health care. The delay in introducing the legislation has led to criticism from the Opposition, particularly Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, who has not provided a clear stance on the issue. Despite calls from major business groups to scrap the tax increase, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed support for the plan, emphasizing its importance in achieving tax fairness.


Toronto City Council Debates Major Streets Plan

Toronto’s city council has approved the Major Streets Plan, a proposal aimed at increasing housing supply by relaxing zoning bylaws and allowing buildings up to six storeys high in various parts of the city. The plan was approved by the planning and housing committee earlier this month. While Mayor Chow has expressed support for the change, some groups criticized the proposal for not going far enough. A city feasibility study previously warned that the 30-unit cap would make housing projects financially unviable for developers in some areas; this issue was addressed by a study presented with the plan on Thursday, and the limit was increased to 60 in the version of the plan passed by council.


New report shows French use on the decline in Quebec

A recent report by the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) indicates a decline in the use of French in Quebec, especially in the workplace. The study reveals that only 56% of workers now use exclusively French at work, down from 60% five years ago. This trend is particularly pronounced among young workers aged 18 to 34 and in bilingual environments where English is increasingly used. Additionally, nearly a quarter of immigrants (24%) use English at work. The report also notes a rise in bilingual greetings and commercial signage not complying with language laws in Montreal . French Language Minister Jean-François Roberge says the report doesn’t consider recent French Language Charter changes but is open to further actions if needed.

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